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Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy

Green Energy In Kansas Not All About Global Warming

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I’m somewhat disappointed that so many Kansans reject the reality of global warming, especially considering that their state could easily and permanently return to Dust Bowl conditions if no action is taken now, but was pleased to read about efforts to green their communities based on other incentives.  While Kansans might not be taking action for the same reasons I am (or at least reasons in the same order of priority), the fact remains that they’re taking action.  This is really good news for everybody except for the dirty energy corporations and those who defend them with uber-religious zeal.

The Climate and Energy Project has helped 6 Kansas towns reduce their energy use by as much as 5% compared to nearby areas.  That’s a significant step forward for those towns.  Why did they do it?

At the outset she [Nancy Jackson, CEP’s chairwoman] commissioned focus groups of independents and Republicans around Wichita and Kansas City to get a sense of where they stood. Many participants suggested that global warming could be explained mostly by natural earth cycles, and a vocal minority even asserted that it was a cynical hoax perpetrated by climate scientists who were greedy for grants [there’s that pesky and absurd mega-conspiracy theory again].

Yet Ms. Jackson found plenty of openings. Many lamented the nation’s dependence on foreign oil. Some articulated an amorphous desire, often based in religious values, to protect the earth. Some even spoke of changes in the natural world — birds arriving weeks earlier in the spring than they had before — leading her to wonder whether, deep down, they might suspect that climate change was afoot.

As long as the primary focus/reason wasn’t global warming, even the reddest portion of America is willing to do its part to make their country energy secure; or exercise their religious duties as they see them.  Again, whether their ordered priorities are the same as mine or not, I applaud these folks for doing the morally correct thing in the end.

Ms. Jackson settled on a three-pronged strategy. Invoking the notion of thrift, she set out to persuade towns to compete with one another to become more energy-efficient. She worked with civic leaders to embrace green jobs as a way of shoring up or rescuing their communities. And she spoke with local ministers about “creation care,” the obligation of Christians to act as stewards of the world that God gave them, even creating a sermon bank with talking points they could download.

In these towns, the strategy worked.  Green industries have come to the region.  The townspeople are saving energy, and therefore are saving money.  They’re satisfying their religious obligations to the world.  I can’t extend enough kudos to Ms. Jackson for moving past typical approaches to get this region to go green and accomplishing measurable and significant successes.  She’s going to have to do much more of this, of course.  So are these townspeople and so will new towns, cities, and states.

But this is what grassroots actions looks like.  This is what it is going to take to change our energy and climate policy at the national level.  Once Americans across the political spectrum see the personal advantages that can be gained by going green, it’s going to very difficult for the dirty energy corporations to continue buying off their elected politicians.  We can only hope that happens with enough time to minimize the effects of global warming.  On a human-to-human level, I would hate to see Kansas turn into a permanent desert.

Cross-posted at SquareState.

This post is the 1,000th at this site.

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